People and Culture
People and Culture
Nepal is home to more than 26.62 million people as per the statistics of National Census, 2011. The population features 101 ethnic groups and 92 spoken languages. The distinction between cast and ethnicity is clearly visible in the society. Nepali is the official language of the Government of Nepal whereas ethnic languages can also be used as official language by local authorities. It is the responsibility of the concerned local authorities to maintain the records in Nepali version as well.
Every ethnic community has its own mother tongue and such communities are encouraged by the constitution to pursue education in their mother tongue up to the primary level. Nepal has turned into a secular country together with the promulgation of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007. All the ethnic and religious communities have equal rights to maintain, practice, promote and preserve their religious practices and institutions. The practice of forceful conversion of one’s religion is prohibited by the constitution itself.
English is used as the second language by a majority of educated people in Nepal. It is also spoken and understood in government as well as private offices in the country. In addition, it is the means of education in private boarding schools operated in urban areas of the country. The people of Nepal are divided into Himalayan people, mid-hills and valley people and terai people on the basis of their inhabitance and origins.
Nepal respects multiculturalism. One of the prominent characteristics of our community is cultural diversity. Kathmandu, the capital city of the country, stands as a melting pot and cultural metropolis of the country. Funs and festivals, as many as the days in a year, associated to various castes and ethnic groups add colour and value to the way of life of Nepalese people. Typical indigenous foods add flavor to the unique character of these festivals. The customs and traditions related to every ethnic group create curiosity to the visitors.
As religion is a way of life in Nepal, people enjoy unity in diversity. One can see the overlap in practicing religion in Nepal. The Hindus visit the temples and at the same time worship in the Buddhist temples as well. Similarly, Buddhists visit the Hindu temples and perform prayers. Therefore, we can see a kind of tolerance and harmony in the society. People are free to practice religion as per their will since the declaration of the country as a secular one.
Nepal has a patriarchal society. It is taken for granted that males should take the responsibility to run the family and females should take the responsibility of households and child rearing. However, we can sense a kind of significant change in this notion since the promulgation of the constitution in 1990. Following this promulgation, the Tenth Periodic Plan of the country took initiative for the inclusion and empowerment of women to mainstream them in active participation in governance and social system. The tradition of arranged marriage, purity and impurity; menstruation as impurity and untouchability, cow dung as a symbol of purity etc. has a deep root in the rural Nepal, and therefore, can be a matter of interest for visitors.
Nepalese food is influenced by the Indian and Chinese foods. But one can enjoy the varieties of Nepalese foods, especially the Newari and Thakali dishes in all seasons. A typical feature one can see in Nepal is the way of eating. People do not use cutleries while eating. They prefer eating with clean hands. In a regular dish, Nepali people eat dal (lentil soup), bhat (rice), tarkari (curry) with achar (pickle). On special occasions, people also prefer curried meat. Dumplings (mo mo), Sel Roti (rounded bread), dhido (millet porridge) etc. are also popular among the people in Nepal. Some of the dishes are on the decline in rural Nepal and preserved in the urban areas as the dishes of particular interests by various hotels and restaurants. Thus, visitors can enjoy the uniqueness of culture, religious practices and food habits that Nepali society has been enjoying while visiting Nepal.